Medical Malpractice Attorneys
When we entrust our physical well-being to the care of health professionals, we do so with the hope and expectation that they will follow accepted standards of care. Indeed, we rightfully expect excellent, state-of-the-art, attentive medical care — certainly not care that is below minimal acceptable standards. Sadly, many health professionals fail to live up to the standards of care and competence we expect and deserve.
Aging demographics, higher patient loads, staffing shortages, poor management, and industry consolidation have all put major strains on our nation’s health care system. This has created substandard conditions in many of our medical facilities, exposing countless patients to the danger of receiving inadequate care, which often results in serious and catastrophic injuries and in the worst cases, wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, you may have a right to compensation.
Free Consultation with a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you wonder whether legal action is appropriate after being injured at the hands of a health professional, contact Bailey, Javins & Carter to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers are prepared to evaluate the facts and circumstances related to your injury and determine whether or not you have a valid claim. Medical negligence claims can be among the most complex and challenging cases to pursue. You are typically going up against well-funded adversaries who will do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions.
We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we are often able to uncover critical and frequently overlooked facts and pieces of evidence that can make the difference between the success or failure of a case. Over the years, we have formed relationships with many highly respected professionals in the medical and other fields, and we routinely call on them as expert witnesses to help support our findings. Our depth of experience and commitment to holding responsible parties fully accountable gives our clients reassurance knowing they are in the best possible position to obtain a favorable outcome in their case.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
Far too many individuals suffer harm at the hands of health professionals they entrusted to take care of them. This can manifest itself in many ways. Some of the most common forms of medical negligence include:
- Birth Injuries: Doctors sometimes fail to properly anticipate and address the possibility of birth defects before a child is born. There are various factors that increase the likelihood of these types of injuries, and when these factors were evident but not acted upon, a child can be born with defects such as cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, shoulder dystocia, and many others.
- Misdiagnosis/Failure to Diagnose: One of the most serious errors a health professional can make is failing to diagnose an adverse health condition or diagnosing the wrong condition. In both instances, this causes critical delays in receiving the correct treatment to help recover. In many cases, this delay can be life-threatening. In the case of a misdiagnosis, the problem is often made worse by prescribing an incorrect treatment that may be harmful to the patient.
- Surgical Errors: Patients always assume a certain level of risk when they go into surgery. However, there are many instances in which a surgical error is committed due to preventable factors such as lack of competence and poor miscommunication. Examples include performing an incorrect procedure (frequently due to a misdiagnosis), operating on the wrong body part, and leaving an instrument inside after completing surgery.
- Medication Errors: Doctors, pharmacists, and other medical professionals have been known to make various types of medication errors. Some examples include prescribing the wrong medication, prescribing the wrong dosage, administering the medication to the wrong patient, and administering multiple prescriptions that interact negatively together.
- Emergency Room (ER) Errors: Individuals who are injured or become ill often seek treatment first in an emergency room. Unfortunately, many instances of medical malpractice occur in ERs. This is largely due to the fast pace and high-pressure environment, often leading to errors such as miscommunication among staff, misdiagnosis, delayed treatments, and many others.
- Defective Medical Equipment/Devices: There are numerous medical devices that hit the market each year, and many have helped save patients’ lives. That said, some equipment is rushed online without being thoroughly tested, and has later turned out to be faulty and injurious to the patient. When this occurs, the designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor could be responsible for the injury.
- Nursing Home Abuse: The mistreatment of our honored elders is a nationwide epidemic that is utterly disgraceful. Understaffed nursing homes are a major contributor, but nonetheless, there is no excuse for not giving the most vulnerable in our society the care they need and deserve.
Medical Malpractice Claims in West Virginia
There are several types of compensation that may be available from a medical malpractice claim, including:
- Medical Expenses: The costs for additional medical treatment to correct what went wrong due to the medical negligence.
- Recovery/Rehabilitation Costs: The ongoing medical costs for therapy and other forms of rehabilitation.
- Reduced/Lost Earning Capacity: Lost wages for time missed from work and for loss or reduction of future earning capacity because of the malpractice.
- Physical Pain: Pain and suffering the victim went through because of the negligent actions.
- Emotional Distress: Mental anguish/psychological distress injury victims go through because of the long-term effects these injuries often have on them.
- Punitive Damages: In rare cases in which the actions of the responsible party were intentional and particularly reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and help deter similar acts in the future.
In West Virginia, there is a cap on non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.) a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case of $250,000 per occurrence. This cap can be bumped up to $500,000 in cases involving certain catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.
The statute of limitations for bringing a medical malpractice claim in West Virginia is generally two years from the date that the injury or death occurred or should have been discovered. Oftentimes, the negative effects of malpractice are not realized until some time has passed, and two years can go by quickly. If you have any suspicion at all that you or someone close to you has been a victim of medical negligence, it is best to get in touch with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Patient advocacy groups have noted that distracted doctoring is among the top risks to patient safety. And when a doctor is distracted by personal matters, they are more likely to make critical errors, such as:
- Prescribing too high or too low of a dose of medication.
- Prescribing the wrong type of medication.
- Failure to diagnose a serious health condition.
- Confusing a patient’s records, which can result in the wrong treatment.
- Misusing medical equipment on a patient.
- Failure to notice a change in the patient’s vital signs or adverse reaction to medication.
- Accidentally leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient’s body.
Distracted Doctoring: A Troubling Trend in Medical Care
These days, most doctors use smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices in order to have instant access to important medical information. These devices can be used to access patient data, medical history, information about various prescription drugs, case studies, and emerging information that might be helpful in treating a patient. But we all know that electronic devices can do far more than just pulling up useful medical data, and this is why distracted doctoring is becoming a growing problem.
Consider this peer-reviewed survey from 2010. In this survey of more than 400 medical practitioners who are involved in performing cardiopulmonary bypass procedures, a large percentage of respondents admitted to frequently using their smartphones while in the operating room. More than 50% of them acknowledged talking on their phones during an operation, nearly half admitted to sending text messages, and about one quarter of them admitted to accessing email or the internet.
We work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you do.
There is no substitute for experience. At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we have been representing injured West Virginians for more than 30 years. We are from West Virginia, and we understand the common types of medical malpractice that occur in health care facilities in this state. When a health care professional fails to meet the accepted standard of care and you are harmed as a result, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and related expenses. Contact a seasoned medical malpractice lawyer to schedule a free consultation.